This is a guest blog post by Jill Tooley.
Contrary to what advertisements may preach, there’s no such thing as a company with a perfect reputation. Accidents and mistakes happen, and unfortunately your customers will be the ones who are inconvenienced by them. How do you handle a tricky situation and attempt to circumvent negative feedback before it’s published all over the web? Here are a few tips to help you address customer concerns and calm the waters before they rage out of control.
Admit That You Were Wrong
Pride will get you nowhere in customer service! You represent your company on the front lines, so you have to take responsibility for your company’s blunders whether you like it or not. Don’t insist upon your innocence and waste time shifting the blame to someone else. If your shipping department made an error and delayed the delivery time, then calmly explain that but prepare to apologize on your company’s behalf. An outraged customer won’t care that it was actually Mary from shipping who was responsible for the mistake; an outraged customer will only care about how you plan to remedy the situation.
Apologize and Mean It
Are you terrified to say “I’m sorry”? Don’t be. Those two tiny words could be the difference between saving a lifelong customer and creating a permanent rival! Say you’re sorry in the most genuine manner possible–even if you feel that it was someone else’s fault. Customers will likely feel better about the inconvenience and calm down once they receive a heartfelt response from you. Understand that a phony apology, like pride, is useless when you have a fuming customer on the line. If you can’t utter “I’m sorry” and mean it, then perhaps you do not belong in customer service!
Make It Up to the Customer
After you take responsibility for the error and tactfully apologize, find opportunities to compensate the customer. Tell the affected client that you value his or her business and that you’d relish the chance to make things right. You can give something back even if it’s impossible to patch up the original order! Offer a generous discount on a future order, present a free upgrade, send thoughtful personalized gifts like metal coffee tumblers or gift baskets, or provide a full refund if necessary. Do whatever it takes to make the customer happy again (or at least content).
Swallow your pride, dust off your apologies, and let your empathy shine. You may not be able to go back in time and prevent the problem from occurring, but you can smooth things over with a genuine attitude and a bit of benevolence.
Jill Tooley writes about promotions and creative advertising topics. She blogs for Quality Logo Products, a promotional products distributor headquartered in the Chicago area. To keep up with Jill and participate in enthusiastic marketing discussions, read the Promo Products Blog. There are plenty of smiles, laughs, and musings to be had!